What is a Graduate Certificate?

In General, University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Life as an undergraduate is certainly busy, and you may feel like you don’t really have time to consider all your postgraduate options – should you move into employment and start earning a wage, or maybe try to progress further in higher education to earn higher qualifications? This transition is a big step, and one that can be made a lot easier by earning a Graduate Certificate: but what actually is a Graduate Certificate?

A Graduate Certificate is an academic credential. It is earned after a bachelor’s degree and before a master’s degree (or qualification equivalent) and certifies that you have completed training in a specialised area of the same value as your bachelor’s degree. Most Graduate Certificates are worth a minimum of 60 credits and can take one to two university semesters to complete. Graduate Certificates should not be confused with Postgraduate Certificates.

In this article, I’ll be explaining all there is to know about what a Graduate Certificate is, what you can use it for, and differences between a Graduate Certificate and other qualifications of a similar level.

What is a Graduate Certificate in the UK?

A Graduate Certificate is an academic credential which certifies that you have completed specialised training at higher education level. Graduate Certificates are designed to bridge the gap between a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree.

How long it takes to earn a Graduate Certificate may vary depending on the institution you earn the certificate with. Usually, Graduate Certificates take between 4 and 9 months to complete.

In the UK, you can also earn a Postgraduate Certificate, but this should not be confused with a Graduate Certificate – they are two different qualifications. A Graduate Certificate is on a bachelor’s degree level, whereas a Postgraduate Certificate is on a master’s degree level.

To read more about what a Graduate Certificate is, check out this article by Forbes.

How do you get a Graduate Certificate?

Graduate Certificates are awarded by universities in the UK. They are earned through completing coursework across one or two terms at university.

Pass requirements will vary by university, course, and specialism. However, a general rule is that you must achieve at least a 50% average mark across all your modules to successfully earn a Graduate Certificate. Please check with your university for the specific requirements of your course.

As an example of what a course for a Graduate Certificate looks like, I’d recommend checking out this page of the Ulster University website.

Remember that a Graduate Certificate is not the same as a master’s level qualification. This is despite the fact that Graduate Certificates are typically earned after already achieving an undergraduate degree.

What can you use a Graduate Certificate for?

A Graduate Certificate is typically seen as a sort of ‘gateway’ to accessing postgraduate education. Although you can move directly from an undergraduate to a postgraduate degree if you want to, a Graduate Certificate helps make this transition smoother.

If you want to learn more about what a postgraduate degree is, check out this article from Think Student.

Universities that offer Graduate Certificates may be more likely to offer you a place on a master’s programme if you have already undertaken a Graduate Certificate at that university. Graduate Certificates can help to open up pathways into very competitive areas.

As well as this, Graduate Certificates help to certify that you have achieved specialist training in a specific area, which helps with access to employment. While undergraduate degrees also do this to a similar extent, the element of specialised training can boost your application.

What is the difference between a Graduate Certificate and a Postgraduate Certificate?

Although I explained this briefly earlier in the article, in this section I’ll be going into more detail about the differences between a graduate and a postgraduate certificate.

As you already know, a Graduate Certificate is a qualification that certifies training at degree level. They are usually earned after an undergraduate degree, and you will typically need to have a bachelor’s in order to apply.

A Postgraduate Certificate is a certificate for training at a master’s level or higher, and you do not need a master’s degree to apply (unlike most Graduate Certificates that require a bachelor’s). Postgraduate Certificates also offer a post-nominal designation upon completion: PGCert.

What qualification level is a Graduate Certificate equivalent to?

In the UK, a Graduate Certificate is listed on this page of the government website as being a Level 6 qualification. This means it is equivalent to qualifications such as a degree with honours (BA or BSc), and a degree apprenticeship.

For more information on what a degree with honours is, check out this Think Student article. As mentioned earlier in this article, a Graduate Certificate is designed to bridge the gap between Level 6 and Level 7 qualifications.

Although a Graduate Certificate itself is a Level 6 qualification, it will help you access qualifications in the level above. You can find out more about what level of qualification a Graduate Certificate is if you check out this page from the University of Portsmouth.

It’s important to note that Graduate Certificates in different countries will equate to different qualification levels. For example, in Ireland, a Graduate Certificate is equivalent to a master’s level qualification.

Is a Graduate Certificate the same as a Graduate Diploma?

A Graduate Certificate and a Graduate Diploma are very similar qualifications on the surface, but they do have their differences. Check out the table below for the similarities and differences between a graduate certificate and a graduate diploma:

Similarities Differences
Equal to a Level 6 qualification A Graduate Diploma can be taken without completing an undergraduate degree first
Usually taken after completing an undergraduate degree (BA or BSc) A Graduate Diploma is worth a minimum of 80 credits, but a graduate certificate is only worth a minimum of 60 credits
  Graduate Certificates take less time to complete than Graduate Diplomas

As you can see from the table, from the outset a Graduate Certificate and a Graduate Diploma can appear very similar. However, they differ on how long they take to complete, how many credits they’re worth, and the entry requirements.

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